I’m sorry to announce that PackRat will no longer be updated. I should explain.

As you may have noticed, updates to PackRat — or this blog — have been relatively scarce these past months. While for a large part my work is to blame for that, it’s not that I’ve been entirely idle, and have worked on PackRat improvements.

There’s a plethora of things I started to implement or improve. Most notably, though, are a cloud synchronization service. In order implement the client side of that, I used a number of open source libraries from the Apache Software Foundation that happen to implement JSRs, that is, specifications by the Java Community Process of which the ASF has been a part.

Today, the announcement came that the ASF resigns from the JCP executive committee — news that is sad, but not entirely unsurprising if you follow relevant tech news.

The part of their rationale that concerns PackRat directly is that they concluded the JCP makes it impossible for them to guarantee that users of their open source JSR implementations are protected from IP litigation. Failing to have the legal resources the ASR can muster, I choose to believe their interpretation.

In other words, if I were to publish the current PackRat codebase, I could be sued by Oracle. Given that this is a hobby project from which I generate no income, that is not a risk I am willing to take.

I have two options now:

  • Reimplement those open source parts I’m using in a manner that is not in accordance with the JSR, making them original designs, or
  • cease to publish updates to PackRat.

Given that my time has been short of late and my progress on updating PackRat slow, I do not think that the first option is feasible. I therefore conclude that I must cease to publish updates to PackRat.

I’m very sad it has come to this. I feel like I’m letting you down, even though rationally, it’s Oracle’s fault. I hope you will continue to enjoy the current version. And maybe, some day, I’ll either have found time to work around this or Oracle has seen the light. They’ve already sued Google, so I kind of doubt the latter will happen.

So long, and thanks for all the fish kind reviews.

7 Responses to “PackRat no longer updated”

  1. Erika Says:

    I’m so sorry to hear this.

  2. Minder Says:

    Have you considered releasing the source code?

  3. unwesen Says:

    I have. I’ve also not yet come to a conclusion on this matter.

    In all honesty, while I’ve made the announcement that I wouldn’t update PackRat, I’m still hoping things might change sufficiently that updates are worthwhile for me again. I’m certainly willing to wait a while to see what happens next.

  4. Minder Says:

    @unwesen: In your situation releasing the sources is the best option anyway:
    1. You’re making profit only from the merchandise (I haven’t seen any ads in PackRat yet), so there is no point in staying closed-source. You can still benefit from merch after you go open.
    2. If the community took over most of the coding, the feature count would hopefully skyrocket.
    3. Remimplementing the code not to use Oracle’s stuff would probably be done by the community.
    4. Being BDFL gives +5 to Charisma and +500 to Karma ;) And you still decide what features/patches to implement.

    And besides all of above: I wonder if oracle can sue you for anything if you live outside the US.

  5. Garen Torikian Says:

    This is very disappointing.

    As the developer of Shelves (the OTHER Android media collection app :) ) I was hoping that we could have a bit of a “feature race.” I’m sorry to see you go; I was inspired by you.

    I have long considered open-sourcing my app as well, considering it is a fork off Romain Guy’s open-sourced app. Would you consider teaming up and working on a collaboration of that sort? Contact me (various methods are listed on my website) if you’re interested.

  6. unwesen Says:

    Thank you!

    I’ve got to decline your offer, though. The reasons for ceasing to update PackRat would apply to other Android apps as well, as long as they use open source JSR implementations. I don’t know if Shelves does right now, but would assume it will if features I’ve currently got under development for PackRat would be implemented in Shelves.

  7. Garen Torikian Says:

    Right, I’m talking about moving beyond JSR code though.

    My “solution” for online access was to use Google Spreadsheets. Users can push their collection as a TSV file, which Google Spreadsheets then parses and presents. Not pretty, but works for backups.

    I have no idea how Springpad implements their Android->Browser push system. But they focus more on notes and annotations–not entire collections…